NOTE: Photography on a hiking trip is photography on the fly—so to speak. Taking my time with photos and carrying lots of gear was going to have to be curtailed since this was a hiking holiday (pictures taken with an iPhone).
The first day of our New England Hiking Holiday in Hawaii began after breakfast at our hotel where we settled into vans for the drive north to Kaloko-Honokohau.
The group consisted 15 people from all over. There were 7 from Boston, 3 of whom were sisters, a Canadian couple living in Buffalo, a single guy from Tewksbury, MA, a single gal from near Detroit, MI, and a couple from Sacramento, CA. The guides were all from New Hampshire but all of them had either lived or worked in Hawaii.
The experience level of these hikers was varied. Some were seasoned hikers and had hiked on many organized tours. Some had only experienced one or two organized hikes. And for some, this was their first organized hiking tour.
Our hotel was the Royal Kona Hotel on the west coast of the “Big Island” of Hawaii. Kona means, “lee-ward” in Hawaiian. Kona is dry, almost a desert.
Kaloko-Honokohau (K-H) is located just north of the city and is a National Historical Park, preserving the coastal sections of traditional Land divisions where hundreds of Hawaiians lived, fished, and farmed. We hiked along the coast looking for green sea turtles. We were lucky to see a number of them resting in shallows or on rocks to sun themselves.
The hiking trail took us along the coast. The trail bed was rough as it consisted of small
and medium sized lava rock. The rocky terrain and the black lava rocks stretched as far as the eye could see. Our hiking guides, Brenda, Virginia and Courtney named the flora and fauna on our path. We were able to see Hawaiian coots and Hawaiian black-necked stilts, both birds are endangered and found only in Hawaii.
After our morning hike we were treated to a wonderful lunch of Hawaiian specialties served under the trees near the fishponds. Many people were there to enjoy the sunshine, crystal blue water and gentle breezes.
In the afternoon we divided into two groups: one group would take the longer hike down to the Captain Cook Monument to snorkel in the cove. The coral and the fish found in the cove are amazing. Bob and I had snorkeled there a few days before off a Catamaran Tour boat. The second hike would be shorter at 2.0 miles total and include a flatter terrain.
The van dropped the first group at a point high above the cove and it required a steep 2.5-mile hike down, after snorkeling, there would be a 2.5-mile hike back up the side of the cove to van. My husband, Bob, chose to go on this hike. Brenda, one of the hiking guides told each of us to carry at least a quart of water. Bob reports that it was a difficult descent and climb because of the heat but manageable if you took your time and rested as needed.
My choice was the shorter hike. I was interested to see the Painted Church of CaptainCook town.
Then, we headed on to Pu’uhonua o Honoaunau (P-H). P-H is another place that preserves the aspects of traditional Hawaiian life. P-H had a sheltered canoe landing and was a place where the local royal chiefs had a residence. Also, it was known as a place of refuge for defeated warriors.
We explored the 1871 trail that takes you up into the hills where there are lava tubes. As recently as 2005, you could actually walk into lava tubes, similar to caves. As recently as 2005 you could go through the tubes and come out on the other side and sit and watch the surf, look for whales, or the sunset over the ocean. Due to seismic activity the tubes or caves have become unstable and dangerous.
Some of the noteworthy plants: Noni is a tree that produces a large fruit. This fruit is fragrant until it falls on the ground and decays. The smell is pretty bad. We were warned by the guides not to step on the fruit.
Hale is a tree that has many uses in Hawaii. The palm fronds are used in woven mats. The wood produces a comb-like utensil.
Pua Pilo is a native plant with a flower that is fragrant and is used in traditional medicine.
The ilima is a yellow flower plant that is used in leis.
The next blog will focus on Day 2 of our hike to the Green Sand Beach and I’ll talk a little about what we wore. Plus, I decided to carry my Nikon camera from now on.